Why is loneliness a “health” crisis? Because loneliness and social isolation are associated with:
- 50 percent increased risk of dementia
- 32 percent increased risk of stroke
- 29 percent increased risk of heart disease
- Higher rates of depression and anxiety
- Even earlier death
Many things can lead to or cause loneliness, but hearing loss, especially, has been linked to a higher risk of social isolation and loneliness. And it makes sense.
Hearing loss can make it more challenging to be social
Humans are social creatures, and going out — whether it’s running errands or going to parties, restaurants, work events or worship — can feel less enjoyable when hearing, communicating and interacting become more challenging.
Imagine struggling to follow a conversation with friends when out for dinner, or not clearly hearing a checkout assistant during a transaction, a pastor’s sermon, or what your neighbours are saying to you as you walk your dog. Imagine missing important dialogue during a film, struggling to hear the soft voices of children at your granddaughter’s school play, or missing the punchline of a joke at your niece’s christening.
After a while, you may decide that the “cons” of socialising outweigh the “pros”, and that it’s easier to decline invitations, shop and transact online, and just stay home.
Today’s Hearing Fact backs up that assertion. It’s from a Dutch study that found — for people under 70 — “the odds for developing severe or very severe loneliness significantly increase” as hearing gets worse.
Our advice? Be aware of hearing loss and proactively treat it before it leads to a potential "crisis". We constantly hear from people who were glad they did.